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Estuaries/Mangroves/Coral Polyps

EstuariesMangroves Coral Polyps


Estuaries are partially enclosed bodies of water along coastlines where fresh water and salt water meet and mix. They act as a transition zone between oceans and continents.
D.W. Pritchard (1967) define estuary as “An estuary is a semi-enclosed coastal body of water which has a free connection with the open sea and within which sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water derived from land drainage.”
Types of Estuaries
a) Coastal Plain estuary: Coastal plain estuaries were formed at the end of the last ice age. As the ice melted and the waters warmed, sea level rose. The rising seas invaded low-lying coastal river valleys. These valleys are usually shallow with gentle sloping bottoms.
b) Tectonic Estuary: The earth’s crust is constantly in motion. This motion causes large cracks or faults and folds to form in the crust. Often due to folding and faulting, the land sinks or subsides. Tectonic estuaries are created when the sea fills in the “hole” or basin that was formed by the sinking land.
c) Bar-Built Estuary: Bar-built estuaries are formed when sandbars build up along the coastline. These sand bars partially cut off the waters behind them from the sea. Bar-built estuaries are usually shallow, with reduced tidal action.
Importance of estuaries
Estuaries provide us with a suite of resources, benefits, and services. Some of these can be measured in dollars and cents, others cannot. Estuaries provide places for recreational activities, scientific study, and aesthetic enjoyment. Estuaries are an irreplaceable natural resource that must be managed carefully for the mutual benefit of all who enjoy and depend on them.
Thousands of species of birds, mammals, fish, and other wildlife depend on estuarine habitats as places to live, feed, and reproduce. And many marine organisms, including most commercially-important species of fish, depend on estuaries at some point during their development. Because they are biologically productive, estuaries provide ideal areas for migratory birds to rest and re-fuel during their long journeys. Because many species of fish and wildlife rely on the sheltered waters of estuaries as protected spawning places, estuaries are often called the “nurseries of the sea.”
Estuaries have important commercial value and their resources provide economic benefits for tourism, fisheries, and recreational activities. The protected coastal waters of estuaries also support important public infrastructure, serving as harbors and ports vital for shipping and transportation.
Estuaries also perform other valuable services. Water draining from uplands carries sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants to estuaries. As the water flows through wetlands such as swamps and salt marshes, much of the sediments and pollutants are filtered out. This filtration process creates cleaner and clearer water, which benefits both people and marine life. Wetland plants and soils also act as natural buffers between the land and ocean, absorbing flood waters and dissipating storm surges. This protects upland habitat as well as valuable real estate from storm and flood damage. Salt marsh grasses and other estuarine plants also help prevent erosion and stabilize shorelines.
Threats to estuaries
Human activities within an estuary (shipping, recreation, aquaculture), or within the lands surrounding the estuary (urbanization, agriculture, logging), may alter estuarine habitats either directly (shoreline alteration, channelization, landfill) or indirectly through such problems as excessive nutrients or introduction of invasive, non-native species.
Estuaries are coming under increasing pressure from:
• Estuary margin development – population growth and coastal settlement.
• Increased demands for recreational uses – such as boating and fishing.
• Development in estuaries – such as marine farms and marinas.
• Catchment development – such as forestry and agriculture.
• Land clearance and reclamation.
• Excavation and dredging for example for boat ramps and boat channels.
• Introduction of invasive species such as Spartina.
• Resource extraction – such as fishing.
• Long term climate changes including sea-level rise.

Gupta Age Art and Culture/Changes in the Gupta and Post-Gupta Period

Gupta Age Art and CultureChanges in the Gupta and Post-Gupta Period

Gupta Age Art and Culture

• The Gupta period witnessed a tremendous progress in the field of art, science and literature and on account of this it has been called “a golden age”.
• A few scholars even call this period a period of renaissance, but it should be remembered that there was no dark period before the Gupta rule.
• Therefore the cultural progress witnessed during the Gupta period may be called the culmination of Indian intellectual activities.

• By evolving the Nagara and Dravida styles, the Gupta art ushers in the history of Indian architecture a formative and creative age with unlimited scope for future development and elaboration.
• The rock-cut caves continue the old forms to a large extent, but possess striking novelty by bringing about extensive changes in the ornamentation of the facade and in the designs of the pillars in the interior.
• The Most notable groups of rock-cut caves are found at Ajanta and Ellora (Maharashtra) and Bagh (MP). The Udayagiri caves (Orissa) are also of this type.
 Structural Temples: The following five groups may be distinguished among the structural temples:
1. Flat-roofed square temple;
2. Flat-roofed square temple with a second storey (vimana) above;
3. Square temple with a curvilinear tower (sikhara) above;
4. Rectangular temple; and
5. Circular temple.
– The second group of temples shows many of the characteristic features of the Dravida style.
– The importance of third group lies in the innovation of a sikhara that caps the sanctum sanctorum, the main feature of the Nagara style.
• Stupas: They were also built in large numbers, but the best are found at Sarnath (UP), Ratnagiri (Orissa) and Mirpur Khan (Sind).
• A good specimen of stone sculpture is of Buddha from Sarnath.
• Of the Brahmanical images perhaps the most impressive is the Great Boar (Varaha), at the entrance of a cave at Udayagiri.

• Metal Statues: The art of casting statues on a large scale by the cire process was practised by Guptan craftsmen with conspicuous success.
• Two remarkable examples of Gupta metal sculpture are:
– A copper image of the Buddha, about eighteen feet high at Nalanda in Bihar, and
– Sultanganj Buddha of seven and half feet.
• The art of painting seems to have been more in general practice and popular demand in the Gupta period than the art of stone sculpture.
• Remains of paintings of this period are found at Ajanta, Bagh, Badami and other places.
• From the point of technique, the surface of these paintings was perhaps done in a very simple way.
• Infact the mural paintings of Ajanta are not true frescoes, for a fresco is painted while the plaster is still damp and the murals of Ajanta were made after it had set.
• The art of Ajanta and Bagh shows the Madhyadesa School’ of painting at its best.
• The Sanskrit language became prominent during the Gupta period. Nagari script had evolved from the Brahmi script.
• Numerous works in classical Sanskrit came to be written in the forms of epic, lyrics, drama and prose. The best of the Sanskrit literature belonged to the Gupta age.
• Himself a great poet, Samudragupta patronized a number of scholars including Harisena.
• The court of Chandragupta II was adorned by the celebrated Navratnas.
• Kalidasa remain the foremost among them. His master-piece was the Sanskrit drama Shakuntala. It is considered one among the ‘hundred best books of the world’. He wrote two other plays – the Malavikagnimitra and Vikramorvasiya. His two well-known epics are Raghuvamsa and KumarasambhavaRitusamhara and Meghaduta are his two lyrics.
• Visakadatta was another celebrated author of this period. He was the author of two Sanskrit dramas, Mudrarakshasa and Devichandraguptam.
• Sudraka was a renowned poet of this age and his book Mrichchakatika is rich in humour and pathos.
• Bharavi’s Kritarjuniya is the story of the conflict between Arjuna and Siva.
• Dandin was the author of Kavyadarsa and Dasakumaracharita.
• Another important work of this period was Vasavadatta written by Subhandhu.
• The Panchatantra stories were composed by Vishnusarma during the Gupta period.
• The Gupta period also saw the development of Sanskrit grammar based on Panini and Patanjali.
• This period is particularly memorable for the compilation of the Amarakosa by Buddhist author Amarasimha, who was a luminary in the court of Chandragupta II.
• The two great epics, namely the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were finally compiled probably in the fourth century A. D.
• The Puranas in their present form were composed during this period. There are eighteen Puranas. The most important among them are the Bhagavatha, Vishnu, Vayu and Matsya Puranas. The Mahabharatha and the Ramayana were given final touches and written in the present form during this period.
• The Gupta period witnessed a brilliant activity in the sphere of mathematics, astronomy, astrology and medicine.
• Aryabhatta, a great mathematician and astronomer, wrote the book Aryabhatiya in 499 A.D. It deals with mathematics and astronomy. It explains scientifically the occurrence of solar and lunar eclipses.
• Aryabhatta was the first to declare that the earth was spherical in shape and that it rotates on its own axis.
• Varahamihira composed Pancha Siddhantika, the five astronomical systems. He was also a great authority on astrology. His work Brihadsamhita is a great work in Sanskrit literature. It deals with a variety of subjects like astronomy, astrology, geography, architecture, weather, animals, marriage and omens. His Brihadjataka is considered to be a standard work on astrology.
• A Gupta inscription from Allahabad district suggests that the decimal system was known in India at the beginning of the fifth century A. D.
• In the fields of astronomy a book called Romaka Sidhanta was compiled which was influenced by Greek ideas, as can be inferred from its name.
• In the field of medicine, Vagbhata lived during this period. He was the last of the great medical trio of ancient India.
• The other two scholars Charaka and Susruta lived before the Gupta age.
• Vagbhata was the author Ashtangasamgraha (Summary of the eight branches of medicine).
• The Gupta craftsmen distinguished themselves by their work in iron and bronze.
• Several bronze images of the Buddha, which began to be produced on a considerable scale because of the knowledge of advanced iron technology.
• In the case of iron objects the best example is the iron pillar found at Delhi near Mehrauli. Manufactured in the fourth century A.D., the pillar’ has not gathered any rust in the subsequent 15 centuries, which is a great tribute to the technological skill of the craftsmen. It was impossible, to produce such pillar in any iron foundry in the West until about a century ago.

Marrakech Climate Change Conference

Marrakech Climate Change Conference

The Marrakech meeting was the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP 22. It also served as the first meeting of the governing body of the Paris Agreement, known by the acronym CMA.
The conference incorporated the twenty-second Conference of the Parties (COP22), the twelfth meeting of the parties for the Kyoto Protocol (CMP12), and the first meeting of the parties for the Paris Agreement (CMA1). The purpose of the conference was to discuss and implement plans about combating climate change and to “[demonstrate] to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway”. Participants work together to come up with global solutions to climate change.
Salient outcomes are:
• International Solar Alliance: India went to Marrakesh with a draft Framework Agreement on International Solar Alliance, which 26 countries signed. The Agreement will take the shape of an international treaty once 15 countries that have signed up, ratify it.
• Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA): The triple-An initiative seeks to climate-proof agriculture in Africa by promoting sustainable soil management, better water management, and risk mitigation strategies. 27 African countries are already on the platform.
• Mission Innovation: There will be greater research collaborations between these countries, which together account for almost 80% of all investments into clean energy research. The mission has identified 7 innovation challenges, including smart grids, carbon capture and sequestration, building of storage cells for solar energy, clean energy materials and sustainable biofuels. Science Based Targets initiative got a boost in Marrakech when over 200 companies worldwide committed to emissions reductions targets.
• Climate Vulnerable Forum: Member countries stressed that the target should be to keep global temperature rise to within 1.5 (not 2) degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times. They vowed to update their climate action plans before 2020 to bring in greater ambition, and prepare a long-term low-carbon development strategy for 2050 with a 1.5-degree target in mind. They also said they would strive to reach 100% renewable energy production between 2030 and 2050.
• Sub-national jurisdictions target: 165 sub-national jurisdictions, calling themselves the Under2s, announced that they would reduce their emissions by 80-95 per cent below 1990 levels and limit their per capita emissions to under 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050. These governments range across states like California, New York and Telangana and cities like Manchester and Sao Paulo, and contribute to over a third of the global economy.
• 2050 Pathway Platform: This is an effort to get countries, cities and businesses to accept long-term targets for climate action. Countries have submitted 5-year or 10-year action plans as part of their commitments under the Paris deal.
• Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, the framework for a five-year rolling work plan was approved. It will serve as the basis for developing corresponding activities, starting with the first meeting in 2017. Since adaptation has limitations, this is a global mechanism to provide support to countries that sustain ongoing and future harm from climate change. The aim will be to address issues such as extreme events, non-economic losses, displacement, migration, slow-moving climatic changes and risk management.
Nearly 200 nations attending the COP22 to the UNFCC have adopted Marrakech Action Proclamation for Our Climate and Sustainable Development.
One focus in Marrakech was to clarify all the rules related to NDCs so that each country could be confident that others were being transparent about their actions.
India has welcomed Marrakesh Action Proclamation as most of its demands including the issue of providing finance to developing nations to tackle climate change has been incorporated.
Future meetings: Negotiations will resume at the annual Subsidiary Bodies meeting, set for May 8-18, 2017, in Bonn, Germany.
Fiji will assume the COP presidency at COP 23, to be held November 6-17, 2017, in Bonn.
Poland will host COP 24, set for November 5-16, 2018.

Graded Response Action Plan on Pollution

Graded Response Action Plan on Pollution

The Union Environment Ministry notified a ‘Graded Response Action Plan’ against air pollution for Delhi and the National Capital Region.
The plan puts governments under the lens and holds out the promise of improvement in air quality.
A graded response lays down stratified actions that are required to be taken as and when the concentration of pollutants, in this case particulate matter, reaches a certain level.
At the level of 100 microgrammes per cubic metre of PM 2.5, for example, mechanised sweeping and water-sprinkling along roads has to start. Traffic police personnel have to ensure smooth flow of traffic, and all pollution control measures that are already in place — such as stopping landfill fires, and enforcing Pollution Under Control (PUC) norms and a ban on firecrackers — have to be imposed strictly.
The graded action plan will be implemented if PM2.5 levels stay over 300 micrograms per cubic metre and PM10 levels stay above 500 micrograms per cubic metre.
The Delhi specific comprehensive action plan was prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The new graded response action plan has proposed stratified levels of action according to the air pollution levels classified by air quality index, which range from moderate to poor to very poor to severe to severe+ or emergency.
The measures in the action plan are cumulative and add up to the highest level, which is severe+ or emergency.
Additional action can be proposed if pollution levels demand higher level of stringency. Decision to shut schools will be taken as per the need of the hour.
The plan was prepared by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA)
The job of ensuring implementation of the action plan will be EPCA’s under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which will delegate the responsibility to the concerned departments.
The concentration of pollutants will be communicated to EPCA by a task force that will primarily comprise officials from the respective pollution control boards and India Meteorological Department. This will be an average for the entire city.
The job of ensuring implementation of the action plan will be EPCA’s, which will delegate the responsibility to the concerned departments. According to EPCA’s report, at least 16 agencies will have to work together to implement the various parts of the plan.
These include the municipal corporations of all NCR towns, the traffic police, police, transport departments, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Delhi Transport Corporation, Resident Welfare Associations, Public Works Departments and Central Public Works Department, Chief Controller of Explosives, and the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation. Each body has been set a task that it will have to carry out when EPCA asks it to, based on the concentration of pollutants.
Beijing and Paris, most notably, have implemented graded action plans over the past few years. Paris recently implemented the odd-even road rationing scheme when PM 2.5 levels crossed 95 µg/m³. It also made public transport free to encourage people to leave their vehicles at home.

Olive Ridley Turtles

Olive Ridley Turtles

The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, is a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Atlantic Ocean.
The name for this sea turtle is tied to the color of its shell. They are carnivores in nature.
Olive Ridley Turtles are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers called ‘Arribada’
Nesting period: From October to early summer
In the Indian Ocean, the majority of olive ridleys nest in two or three large groups near Gahirmatha in Odisha. The coast of Odisha in India is the largest mass nesting site for the olive ridley, followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.
Conservation status: Vulnerable according to the (IUCN) and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
Protection under The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Threats: Incidental take, particularly in shrimp trawl nets and near shore gill nets, direct harvest of eggs and adults for their meat and skin, Marine pollution (including oil spills) and debris.
To reduce accidental killing in India, the Orissa government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), a net specially designed with an exit cover which allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch. However, this has been strongly opposed by the fishing communities as they believe TEDs result in loss of considerable amount of the catch along with the turtle. WWF-India, along with its partners, disproved this theory by conducting a study to measure the loss of catch through TEDs, revealing the loss to be a very small percentage of the total catch. This result, along with regular meetings with the fishing communities, is slowly helping to change their mindset and encourage use of TEDs, thereby aiding the conservation of Olive ridley turtles.
SEE TURTLES: It is a non-profit organization that protects sea turtles through conservation travel and volunteer tours, educational programs, and Billion Baby Turtles.


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